A man died after being trampled by cows during a pandemic walk he had done many times before with his wife, an inquest has heard.
Michael Holmes, 57 was crushed by cattle in a field near his home in the village of Netherton, West Yorkshire, in a “traumatic” incident that left his wife, Teresa, needing to use a wheelchair.
Teresa Holmes, told the inquest she and her husband, a telecoms worker, had been childhood sweethearts and had been married for 34 years.
They had started taking daily walks together while both were working from home during the pandemic and this was one of their regular routes, which usually took half an hour, she said.
On 29 September 2020 the couple also had their daughter’s two dogs, which were on fixed leads.
The inquest heard they entered a field at JA Mitchell & Sons Farm, and followed a public footpath up a steep hill but were unaware that several dozen cows with calves were at the top of the slope.
CCTV footage from a nearby property appeared to show the cows approaching the couple from behind and “accelerating”.
Michael Holmes sustained fatal chest injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, while Teresa spent six months in hospital after sustaining a spinal cord injury and fractured ribs.
She told the inquest she has no recollection of the incident, which she said “is a good thing really, considering what happened”.
She said her daughters had to break the news to her that her husband had died. “It was a very, very traumatic time, quite isolating,” Teresa Holmes said.
She said she and her husband had been in the same field “scores” of times and were aware it “sometimes” had cattle in, but that they did not see them on that day due to the steep hill.
“I feel there should be some signage there that says ‘there are cattle with calves’. Had that been the case, we would definitely not have entered.”
The inquest heard evidence from two walkers who had been chased by cows in the same field less than four months before Holmes was killed, including one who was injured.
The farmer, Martin Mitchell, whose family have run the farm since 1963, said he had not been aware of any problems with his cattle being “aggressive”, but said cows with calves did not mix well with dogs because they “see a dog as a predator”.
Mitchell told the inquest that since Holmes’s death he had submitted proposals to Wakefield council to divert the footpath.
The inquest continues.